Catching up with the girls on Zoom, Skype or Houseparty just isn’t quite as good for the soul as a walk in nature. We know you’re all itching to lace up your sneakers and get moving with the crew, so – we’ve mapped out your Top 5 weekend walking trips – complete with coffee and cake stops!
The best part? Our trails are only a short drive from the Adelaide tollgate. So message your friends and we’ll see you on the weekend when you come and spend your newfound freedom walking, talking (and drinking coffee) here with us!
Exploring the stretches of our Murray River, Lakes and Coorong can take you to some pristine landscapes – filled with beautiful wildlife, untouched natural bushland and brilliant sunrises over the water. And of course, there’s plenty of Insta-worthy moments to be captured.
Our backyard is fast-becoming the walking trail capital of regional SA. We have short tracks for those who just want to stretch their legs and breathe in some fresh air; and something a little longer for those wanting to improve their fitness or get a sweat up. Even better is that along the journeys, there are plenty of places to stop and grab a coffee to (quite literally) put that pep in your step.
So if you’ve been looking forward to getting out, stretching your legs again and reconnecting with friends, here’s our Top 5 walks to lock in for winter.
≈ Walk: Across Australia’s oldest bridge over the Murray River and along edge of the water
≈ See: Views from above the river, native birdlife, cruising paddlesteamers, Murray River
≈ Coffee: Grab your takeaways from Mystical Flair or Noti & Folk
≈ Drive: 45 minutes from tollgate
On foot, you can do a lot of sightseeing in the heart of Murray Bridge – but this walk gives your crew maximum river views (and the chance to walk along the edge of the town’s iconic car bridge).
As you’re heading into the town, your first stop for coffee should begin on Bridge Street, where your group can pop into for freshly brewed coffee and breakfast at Mystical Flair (egg and bacon burgers, or a healthy muesli, anyone?). If you don’t have time to stop and wait, you can phone in your order through, so it’s ready for you to pick up and pay en route to meeting your walking buddies. A great place to meet is on top of the hill on the town side of the Bridge – there’s a car park on the top of East Tce (in front of the Bridgeport hotel which is currently under construction).
Noti & Folk in the Murray Bridge Marketplace is also a great little spot to grab a cuppa. (Or even better – save it for a pit stop after your long walk and test out their all-day brunch menu. Good luck choosing something off the menu… it’s all that good!)
To kick off your walk, we’d suggest making your way down to the town’s premier riverfront area at Sturt Reserve. Here you can follow the riverside footpath (part of the ) heading towards the Wharf Precinct (where the old train carriages and Captain Proud sit). This walk will take you under both the train and car bridges – where it’s a surreal feeling having all of the traffic moving above your head – especially if a train passes over!).
From here, head left and walk up towards the historic (the grassy lawn area boasts incredible views – so grab your phone out and capture the panoramic sights). From here, make your way back onto the pedestrian path of the car bridge and admire the scenery from above the water (just like the girls in the above video clip did!).
*Note: Don’t try to walk on the Bridge’s roadway – stick to the paths either side.
If you’re up for a big walk and still have sooo much to talk about (like catching up on all the Netflix shows you’ve been bingeing on in isolation), cross the bridge and follow the river’s levee banks around to Thiele Reserve. Here you can sit down and watch the world float by before you head back over the bridge (there’s also a loo here in case you need a pit-stop).
This walk takes an average of between 1 – 1.5hrs.
≈ Walk: Through towering pine trails in Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park or take a ride on foot over the ferry
≈ See: A beautiful green forest with delineated pathways and native wildlife
≈ Coffee: Grab your takeaways from Little Local Co or the Tailem Bend Bakery
≈ Drive: 58 minutes from tollgate
Before we even begin with the trail, we need to start with the mouth-watering treats and coffee found at Little Local Co. If you haven’t heard of these guys before, following them online should come with a warning because it’s hard to resist their ridiculously good temptations – you’ll want to keep coming back for more!
Image courtesty of @littlelocalco.
A few doors down is the family-owned and run, award-winning Tailem Bend Bakery. These guys have won more than 50 awards in the past five years for their pastries, so you already know you’re in for a treat.
Now finally to the trail. The Mowantjie Willauwar Conservation Park Walking Trail can be found along the Princess Highway between Tailem Bend and Meningie (about a 55 minute drive from the Adelaide tollgate) and includes 143 hectares of Southern Cyprus Pine Forest. (For a preview, take a look at the video below.)
This trail is perfect for groups of friends or families and has clearly marked trails, which are even good enough to cycle or push a pram through if you’ve got the kids in tow.
It’s a hidden gem in our region. So grab your coffee and cake, and head out for walks and talks.
While you’re there – and if you haven’t stepped foot onto one of our free ferries over the Murray River (or simply want to experience the novelty) – here’s a chance to include it in your walk. Following the River Bend Heritage Trail, start at Dickson Reserve (located below South Aussie with Cosi’s Rhino sculpture can be found). Take your time and mosey around the grassed area by the water’s edge, before hopping aboard the ferry which will take you across the river to Jervois. Find the trail map here.
≈ Walk: Across the dual ferries at Mannum, over levee banks and along the river’s edge
≈ See: Historic paddlesteamers, Murray River views, native wildlife, pristine reserves
≈ Coffee: Grab your takeaways Café Mannum or the Randell Street Bakery
≈ Drive: 60 minutes from tollgate
If you love a sit-down breakfast, you can’t go past Cafe Mannum. Pull up a chair outside and bask in the morning sun as you fill up with their amazing eggs benedict and sip on a barista made cuppa. This vantage point lets you overlook the historic main street of Mannum (great, if you don’t mind a bit of people watching), and when you look towards the water you’ll have views of the dual ferries in action, carrying drivers back and forth across the river – and if it’s docked, you might spy the beautiful PS Marion as well.
But if you’re keen to get right into your walk, make the Randell Street Bakery your meeting point and take the chance to fuel up with one of their famous pretzels for brekky (and a hot coffee) to accompany you on your morning spent exploring our beautiful Murray River scenery.
Mannum’s section of the Murray Coorong Trail starts by taking you, by foot, across the ferries towards the Bowhill side of the river. To find the ferries, just meander down the main street towards the caravan park and Mannum Dock Museum. You can’t miss them.
Once you’ve made it to the other side of the river and have reached Haythorpe Reserve, continue walking through to the river levee. This stretch soon turns into a quiet stretch of the trail, free from vehicle access, and provides one of the most peaceful riverside walks you could imagine (East Front Road). See the trail here.
It leads you along the river’s edge for a good 9kms until you reach Kia Marina as your final destination. This trail takes you away from the town centre (so you can really soak up the calmness of being by the water with just you, your friends and the sounds of nature. The only interruption might be the local cycling club, who love to pedal along here each Saturday morning – but they’re all friendly, so don’t panic if the peloton approaches.
For out-of-towners, a trip to Mannum should also include a visit to the local waterfalls – and now that we’re heading for winter, the Mannum Waterfalls walk is definitely one worth stopping for. The recent rains have created a trickling flow down to the lower pools which run down to the gully. And with the lush green hills surrounding you, it’s the perfect escape from the city. Make sure you take your phone too so you can capture those stunning views.
To get to the falls, just look for the big brown tourist sign on the side of Mannum Road before you get to the township – you can’t miss it! If you can’t fit both walks in one day, stay the night and do both over a weekend – we have a few accommodation suggestions for groups.
≈ Walk: Through native bushland conservation park, under a trail tunnel, around winding trails, through creeks and more
≈ See: Native scrubland, kangaroos, native birdlife, native wild flowers, kids-made tree cubbies
≈ Coffee: Grab your takeaways from GCS or Acre & Ash
≈ Drive: 45 minutes from tollgate
If native scrubland trails are more your thing, then Kinchina Conservation Park on the outskirts of Murray Bridge is definitely for you. Here you’ll come across rocky terrain, varying single file to wide open trails, old ruins, the odd kangaroo (and other local wildlife), plus a train tunnel you can walk under – just to name a few of the awesome things to expect.
If that sounds good, then we’re guessing this place is likely to become one of your new favourite walking spots (and it’s only a 55 minute drive from Adelaide)!
Speaking of favourites, this multi-trail park has gained significant popularity over the last couple of months, most likely because of its ability to make you feel like you’re somewhere much further away. Locals have fallen in love with even more during isolation, as families, friends, households and mountain bikers explore the extensive trails.
Another great part about Kinchina is that you can bring your pooch on the walk with you (just make sure they’re kept on a leash). Or better yet, if you’re a group of fur-parents, make it a doggy play date!
Check out the trail map and lock in a walking date (we promise you’ll love it and be planning a trip back before you finish to test out the other track loops!)
Tip: we recommend downloading or taking a photo of the park map on your phone to help navigate your way around – phone service can be spotty here.
Now on to coffee. The GCS Café on Murray Bridge’s main road coming in from the South Eastern Highway accepts pre-orders, so you can quickly order via SMS (check details on their Facebook page) run in and grab your brekky, while Fido sits patiently in the car. Usually there’s a dog bowl out the front of the café too if your pup needs a quick drink before the walk begins.
Another great little stopping-spot is Acre & Ash (*reopening again from Monday, 1 June) – and if you’ve got kids in tow, this is definitely the place to stop for coffee. With it’s colourful interiors and super-friendly baristas, it’s fast becoming a trendy institution amongst the local Murray Bridge coffee-lovers.
≈ Walk: (Or cycle) from the River’s edge to the Murray Mouth and beach
≈ See: The Murray River, Murray Mouth, Hindmarsh Island Bridge, ocean’s edge, Coorong, barrage, sandhills, wildlife, sail boats, surfers, more.
≈ Coffee: Grab your takeaways from Hector’s on the Wharf, the Wharf Barrel Shed, Bombora on the River or Kuti Shack
≈ Drive: 60 minutes from tollgate
The beauty of our lower Murray River environment, is its diversity. From Goolwa and the Murray Mouth, you get both the river and beach lifestyle – so it’s perfect for those who can’t decide which they love more!
If you’ve never been to Goolwa, one of the main attractions is the wharf precinct area. Here you have a nice blend of indoor and outdoor restaurant dining and takeaway options. We’d recommend testing out Hector’s On the Wharf or the Wharf Barrel Shed, and on your walk you can stop and top up at Bombora on the River or Kuti Shack along the way.
There’s always a great atmosphere being right on the water. So while you’re hanging around the area, eating brekky or having a little wander down the wharf, expect views across to the Hindmarsh Island bridge, native birdlife their way to the barrage, sailboats, avid kayakers, and LOTS of people walking an cycling. Seriously, there’s always people enjoying the outdoor space down here.
When it’s time for your crew to get up and moving, the Encounter Bikeway (a shared path for cycling, dog walking, and jogging) links the Goolwa River to the beach. From the Goolwa end, you can begin at the top from Laffin Point and journey along the riverside past the marina and the wharf. Or begin from the wharf and head towards the yacht club on Barrage Road. If you’re really keen, the walk doesn’t have to end there – keep going until you reach the Goolwa Barrage (you can also walk across the barrage too and watch the birds trying to catch fish – it’s a feeding frenzy down there!).
Now here’s one for the beach lovers who can’t wait to feel the sand between their toes. From the Goolwa Barrage you’ll find a shortcut through the dunes which takes you over the hill and opens up to some magnificent views of the Murray Mouth and Goolwa beach. Here you can walk as far as your legs can take you.
Alternatively, get in the car and head over to Sugars Beach on Hindmarsh Island. You can grab an egg and bacon roll and coffee from the , and wander over to the Murray Mouth lookout. (These guys also have some of the best fish and chips in the world, so best time your walk around lunch time!)
Okay, okay… we know we said five, but we couldn’t leave these out.
If exploring the Coorong has been something you’ve always wanted to do, here are some options to make it happen.
First off, you’ll want to stop in Meningie for all your coffee and breakfast needs (or sneak in a fresh Coorong Mullet burger). While you’re here, it’s a good opportunity to check out Lake Albert using the Pelican Path that takes you along the foreshore.
The Coorong National Park is filled with beautiful walking trails and nature like no other. So if you feel like walking across the sand dunes, start with the Ocean Beach Hike – a short trail from the 42 Mile Crossing campground to the ocean beach.
Up for a challenge? The Nukan Kungan Hike is a 25km return trip from Salt Creek to the popular 42 Mile Crossing. The trail passes through shrublands, woodlands and salt lakes – so it’s common to see a few native animals like, kangaroos, wombats and emus in here.
But, we know not everyone is that committed to walking – so the Lakes Nature Walk trail offers you a happy medium. The 2.9km circuit is a pleasant walk through the Mallee scrub with the Pipe Clay Lake on one side and the Coorong lagoon on the other.
Our backyard is an easy, uninterrupted drive along the SE Freeway from the Adelaide tollgate, so you can easily fit at least one of these walks into your weekend.
Or better yet, if you’re craving a low-key getaway with the girls where you can start the day with coffee walks and end it with wine and water views, take your pick at one of our local accommodation options.
Whatever your budget, you’ll find fantastic riverfront holiday home options through River Shack Rentals. If you’re looking to stay around the Coorong, take a look at Coorong Realty’s holiday homes – or even book a campsite in the Coorong National Park. Alternatively, try a search on Airbnb or Home Away. There’s also plenty of local caravan parks available across our region too – plenty offering water views!
And if you love sharing your curated journey with followers, our top Instaworthy places to stay, include The Cube, Bill’s Boathouse, Alexia on the Murray, Birks Harbour, The Admiral Riverside and Mill Estate.
Remember to give us a tag on Instagram (@murrayriverlakescoorong) or Facebook (Murray River, Lakes and Coorong) when you post pics of your adventures, so we can keep sharing the best bits of our region.
**COVID-19: As restrictions being to ease around South Australia, please ensure that you check with operators and appropriate authorities before you travel. If you are feeling sick, please stay home and travel again when you’re well.